Lionel Messi trains with Argentina for World Cup semi-final - in pictures

South Americans prepare for clash against Croatia in Qatar with star captain set to equal competition appearance record

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Argentina were out on the training pitch in Doha on Monday, preparing for their World Cup semi-final against Croatia.

The South American champions came through a bruising quarter-final against the Netherlands on Friday that saw 16 yellow cards brandished and numerous skirmishes break out between the two sides before Argentina eventually ran out winners on penalties.

Argentina started the tournament in the worst possible fashion when they fell to a shock defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening match, before picking themselves up by securing 2-0 wins against Mexico and Poland to finish top of Group C.

Australia were dispatched 2-1 in the last-16 before the manic Dutch match that saw Louis van Gaal's side score two late goals, levelling the tie at 2-2 and taking the match into extra-time and then penalties, where Argentina eventually came out on top 4-3.

Their talisman and captain Lionel Messi scored from the spot against the Netherlands, as well as finding the net in the shoot-out, and now has four in the tournament. Only France striker Kylian Mbappe, with five, has scored more.

This will probably be Messi’s last World Cup and the 35-year-old is set to make a record-equalling 25th appearance in the competition on Tuesday.

“He’s always been a winner,” manager Lionel Scaloni said of Messi, who is set to match former Germany player Lothar Matthaus’s competition record. “He’s so eager, willing to keep playing football so we’re very happy about this.

“We’ll see whether he continues playing or not. We will keep enjoying him. That’s the most [important] thing we can do – that’s for us and the world of football.

“In case things turn out well, then everything will be good for us. We have our whole country supporting us. They’re backing us.

“But there’s still a long road to go. We need to play crucial matches. Tomorrow’s game will be a very tough one and we need to focus entirely on that.”

You can see images from Monday's training session in the gallery above. To move on to the next photo, click on the arrows or swipe if using a mobile device.

Updated: December 14, 2022, 7:02 AM